Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The people came back!

For almost all of my married life, I've worked for a company in downtown Salt Lake City. For many years, the path I took to my office each day took me through the old ZCMI Center mall, which, along with its sister mall across the street, was The Place To Shop for most of my growing up years. I thought it was so exciting to work in a place that was central to most of my shopping memories, which my sister summed up very eloquently here. I loved going downstairs to get something to eat at the food court, or to run across the street to Nordstrom meet my mom for the Anniversary Sale. Even better, I could shop for baby clothes any time I felt like it during what can only be called my Baby Starvation period of late 1999 - August 2001.

After a while, it was a bit blase to work around the malls. I didn't go down often, and then at all. Then, as stores like Eddie Bauer, The Gap, and Harroons (which I adored. It filled the need for swishy skirts during my hippie period perfectly!) closed, the malls weren't much of an attraction anymore. It's no fun to wander a mall with completely empty corridors, right? I watched their long, slow, agonizing final death that happened in 2007 when the malls were officially closed and systematically knocked down. Downtown became a ghost town of church employees and construction workers. It all went away - buildings and food court and even parking garage. Downtown was sad. I was sad. No shopping. No good places to eat. No baby clothes.

It was a sad day, the last time I walked through ZCMI center out to Trax, realizing that I would spend the next 5 or 6 years walking on the cold street to my office instead of through a warm and cozy mall (no more jaywalking). And it was a sad day when all that remained of Nordstrom was bare concrete walls, sniff. For what seemed like decades, I watched the construction of the malls' replacement - City Creek. Monthly company staff meetings on higher floors were always accompanied by me staring down at the new construction below. As the shape and structure of City Creek became apparent, I got excited, but never ever imagined that the year it would really open - 2012 - would ever really get here. Or that I would still be working right in the same place.

But: it's open!! Of course they had to do the grand opening on a day when I wasn't scheduled to work nor could I make it, so the Saturday after it opened, Shane and I and the boys went down to walk through the now-open pathways I'd watched being built. My kids loved it (Thomas can't wait to go back later this month when he comes for our Bring Your Kids to Work Day. He wants to check out the Disney Store, which on the day we visited, had a ginormous line. Who waits to get into the Disney Store, I ask?) We had a great time wandering around, and none of us could believe how nice it was.

The thing that has been the most surprising to me is the the people. The people have came back! The ghost town created by the old, dying malls and then Construction Central have been replaced by more people than you can shake a stick at. They are everywhere All. Day. Long. now. It's awesome and it makes me giddy with excitement.

I love to walk across the sky bridge to White House Black Market and check out the clearance rack (the only other WH/BM I've ever been to is at Fashion Place and I always have 3 boys in tow, all impatient and wanting me to hurry). I love that J Jill is there - a store I've loved from catalogs and random visits to The Gateway. I can even go to the Nordstrom sale in Downtown again - wahoo! Last week I tried on a pair of Steve Madden sandals that I've been salivating over, and I got a sample of lip gloss at Sephora. Fun, right?

I feel kind of bad, because my luck is at the demise of Amy's happy shopping (her Nordstrom closed so that mine could open. I am sorry, Amy, I really am!!) And I also feel a kind of possessiveness about the whole thing - I mean, I watched the men who built it eat McDonald's egg McMuffins every morning, as they first tore it all down and then built it back up. That's kind of an ownership, right? (Ok, not really.) And while I will probably only ever shop the clearance racks at most of the stores, I can still watch for the stuff I love to go on clearance. How exciting!! Maybe one day I'll dare to venture into Tiffany's. And all on my own time, without any impatient people waiting while I look at items I'm never going to buy.

The first week after it opened, Amy texted me asking where City Creek was. I excitedly told her and then found out she was on her way to check it out. I ran downstairs and we met up in the bathroom, hugging and laughing about the fact that we were both sporting ponytails. We chatted about all the ritzy stores and the retractable roof and all the posh, snotty people who were clearly there to Be Seen (giggle.) It was awesome being there with my sister.

So, have you come down to City Creek yet? If you do, and I'm at work, come and visit me! I'm an awesome tour guide.


heidikins said...

....how on earth did I not know you worked downtown!? Seriously, we must meet for lunch or something. Srsly.


Britt said...

I have been to your work, and I gazed upon the construction from some room that had a piano in it.

I don't know if I get to say that I've been to City Creek. I've parked there and walked from the Deseret Book area to Temple Square. Minimal exposure, I guess, but I was there! I loved the old malls and will always miss them.